‘Avatar’: Red-state politics + blue aliens = box-office green

Jan. 05, 2010 | 4:27 p.m.
James Cameron moody

Steven Zeitchik is back on the Hero Complex today with a look at the politics of “Avatar. Does the film prove that moviegoers don’t mind political messages in their movies — or that they don’t just notice them when giant blue aliens start running around the screen? 

Conservative blogger Joshua Huffman devotes at least several hours a day to right-leaning media and blogs, which have offered him plenty of rhetoric about the wrongheaded politics of James Cameron’s “Avatar.”

Yet when it came time to pick a movie this holiday season, Huffman, who also runs his own blog, The Virgina Conservative, knew there was only one film that would top his list. So Huffman braved a snowstorm to see “Avatar” on opening weekend. “It’s a movie I really enjoyed, even if I didn’t agree with a lot of the underlying messages,” he said, adding that he probably would see “Avatar” again and has recommended it to many friends.

Huffman isn’t alone. “Avatar” has gone north of $1 billion at the worldwide box office, and domestically the blue-alien movie is a sensation in both red states as well as blue states despite some fierce conservative criticism of the movie and its perceived political messages.

Big-budget studio movies usually mute their ideology as they seek a wide audience. But “Avatar” has inflamed the passions of right-wing bloggers and pundits. Cameron incensed many voices on the right by acknowledging of-the-moment messages about imperialism, greed, ecological disregard and corporate irresponsibility in his movie about the 22nd-century plundering of a distant moon called Pandora. The film (contrary to plenty of blog posts out there) does not show American military units in action — the aggressors on Pandora are mercenaries in services of a corporation — but that distinction was missed or deemed unimportant by many commentators; one reason may be the use of terms such as “shock and awe” and “war on terror” in some of the most heated parts of the movie. Cameron may have deployed mercenaries of the future but it’s clear that he drafted contemporary issues for his cinematic campaign.

There was plenty of return fire. Writing in the Weekly Standard, conservative commentator John Podhoretz called the movie’s clash between heavily armed humans and an indigenous tribe of aliens as “anti-American, anti-human.” In an upcoming piece in Commentary magazine, Stephen Hunter writes that “the movie essentially decodes into a 1960s pseudo-intellectual’s power-trip dream.” A headline on a piece by John Nolte, editor of Andrew Breitbart’s conservative Big Hollywood site, declared the movie wasn’t for Heartland America: “‘Avatar’ Is a Big, Dull, America-Hating, PC Revenge Fantasy.” On the Drudge Report, the headlines made clear the film was viewed as a misguided stealth missile of liberal rhetoric, not a popcorn entertainment.

Avatar faces

 

On the eve of “Avatar’s” release there were more than a few predictions that the film would suffer because of its out-of-touch-with-America message from the Hollywood left. But it was the rage of the right that was out of touch with the moviegoing populace. The movie about tree-hugging aliens just enjoyed the most lucrative third week of release in Hollywood history (it carried the movie to a domestic total of $352 million), suggesting strong word-of-mouth and a considerable number of multiple viewings by some fans.

And although specific audience breakdowns are hard to come by, moviegoers gave “Avatar” a CinemaScore of “A” on its opening weekend, suggesting that nearly anyone with blogger-fueled doubts coming in had them wiped away once they saw the film.

One reason for the disconnect between the bloggers and the box office may be the simple fact that the movie about big blue aliens didn’t feel all that connected to modern-day politics once the spears and dragons started flying. “A lot of people see ‘Avatar’ as a 22nd-century story and they don’t analogize it,” Podhoretz said in an interview. “They see that the guy turns into a 10-foot-tall blue guy. Whatever political message in it sails over their heads…If [average] people come out and say this is really vile and disgusting and defames our military and defames our country, that would have a different effect. But no one’s really saying that.”

Avatar bow and arrow

 

Sometimes politics sit right next to moviegoers when they visit a darkened theater. Six years ago, two mega-hits brought out distinctly different audiences, as liberals turned out by the millions for Michael Moore’s anti-Bush screed “Fahrenheit 9/11″ and a Christian base drove “The Passion of the Christ” to a major success that morphed at times into a polarizing debate on religion in American.

“Avatar,” though, is a film about pure adventure and otherworldly escape and, in terms of spectacle, the sci-fi epic is being hailed by many as a must-see masterpiece — the politics don’t seem to matter much. “People watch Fox News or listen to NPR because of what it says, and what it says about them,” says Syracuse University professor Bob Thompson. “What ‘Avatar’ shows is that people don’t make decisions about blockbusters that way.”

Perhaps the closest parallel is “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace,” another blockbuster with some political subtext amid its space travels – but that movie drew people in with its built-in history, not its word-of-mouth and certainly not its reviews. “Avatar” is rolling along strongly thanks to its visual successes and, in a wry twist, the marketing and advertising by 20th Century Fox. “People are receptive to this message of anti-corporate imperialism,” Thompson says. “But they’re receptive to it precisely because of a big corporation’s brilliant marketing machine.”

– Steven Zeitchik

Top photo: James Cameron. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times. Middle and bottom photos: Scenes from the movie “Avatar.” Credit: 20th Century Fox

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Comments


55 Responses to ‘Avatar’: Red-state politics + blue aliens = box-office green

  1. avrwc2 says:

    Okay, let's stop beating around the bushes people. One interpretation of Avatar is this:
    The brutal mercenary army that does the shock and awe bombing of largely unarmed alien people while promising to give them 'schools' is 'us' in Iraq and in Afghanistan and maybe in Serbia. Too bad there were no torture scenes and blue flesh pyramids, Abu-Ghraib style but at least we had the Fallujah-style destruction.
    The former Marine turned blue alien and fighting 'us' to the death after 'getting' what 'we' were about is the couple of American Jihadists who now took the cause of the alien people we try to discipline via friendly bombings and burnings. We call the traitors to our nation while the murderous general in Avatar calls our hero a traitor to his race.
    Avatar shows the killing and the eventual defeating of 'us'. And, you know what? THE AUDIENCE IS CHEERING AND APPLAUDING.
    We've had enough stupid, murderous wars and the claims that our military are defending our liberties, 5000 miles from our border sound increasingly bogus. And… what liberties are they defending exactly?
    So, that. Avatar is about US, no question about it and, if at least for a couple of hours, some of us come to our senses, cheering for the good guys, Avatar is worth watching.
    As for Podhoretz and his fellow fat cats… they serve the evil empire. They don't speak for us.

  2. News Corpse says:

    Conservatives were bashing Avatar even before its release because, typically, they knew what it was about without the inconvenience of having to actually watch it. Plus they were already obsessed with a different story of a "colored" alien who they believe seeks to destroy capitalism.
    See him here: http://www.newscorpse.com/ncWP/?p=1496
    I don't have a problem with conservatives staying home. If they want to make Rupert Murdoch (who's Fox studios released the film) poorer, that's OK with me.

  3. Francisco says:

    I find it very interesting that this columnist gives such credit to Fox's marketing department for the success of Avatar. I think Avatar's success owes to positive reviews, word of mouth, and the novelty of it's spectacle (particularly 3d).
    Of everyone I know who saw the film (whether or not they liked it), they all claimed that it was much different from what they were led to believe by the marketing, and that based on the trailers alone, they were not interested in the film. Further, the die-hard sci-fi fans who were Avatar's built-in audience (despite all acknowledged efforts to make the film "universal," it still appeals directly to a specific core audience), voiced almost complete disapproval of the film upon the release of the trailers and marketing materials.
    All politics aside, I think this is a perfect example where a film's marketing department deserves little to no credit for the performance of the film.

  4. rnw says:

    Just because people sat through Avatar doesn't mean they don't mind political messages in their movies or they don't notice them. Movies are consumed as they are watched…you can't return your purchase to the store if you're not happy with it. Maybe everyone else knew beforehand that Avatar was going to be a cheap rehash of Ferngully, but I didn't. The only advertising I saw focused on the effects, and that's what I went to see, but I left feeling blindsided by all the left-wing preaching. It ruined my enjoyment of the movie, and I will not be seeing it again. I am hoping any sequels will have better storylines, but I'll be sure to read reviews before forking over $$ for a ticket.

  5. Mercy says:

    ME thinks anybody who takes the politics personally is kinda outing his or herself as one of those who would dominate the planet with brutish technology and stomp other cultures and their sense of the sacred into the ground. Did anybody notice, that's been going on for ten thousand years. Kinda hard to sell sympathy for the Devil this way.

  6. David Simon says:

    Stunning visuals, neauseating politics. Business as usual for Mr. Cameron.

  7. chuck says:

    I thought this movie was horrible. Same old story line and very predictable, you can easily guess from the beginning what the main character is going to do. Seems like a movie about tribes loosing land due to the rich man diamond mines etc. To much drama and almost Disney like. Plot was horrible, seem the same story line in many other pictures, I think the Hype about what it costs and advertisement is what saved the film and made it much money, otherwise I thought it was boring and at times wanted to walk out due to it dragged on and on. Never liked the main actor since he played in Terminator Salvation. And who cant forge the fast and the furious actress, she is horrible. Almost thought I was watching a documentary on either Indian or African tribes.

  8. senojjones says:

    I suppose you can read anything in to this film that you want. I loved it..
    I supported the Iraq war, still do, (got a beer and an hour and we can debate this)
    I didn't see the "bad guys" in the movie as US military, more likely they represented our whole planet. Could have been Soviet, chinese or german, (you remember the SS don't you)
    They didn't exhibit the profound cruelty of say the radical muslims.
    The Navi were fighting for their freedom, something we have supported in our own clumsy way for the last century.
    If you want to see the US in this, I'm reminded of how the west was won, by committing genocide against my ancestors, the american indians.
    i'm still pissed about that..

  9. oscar baker says:

    for me this was about Corporate use of the Military, what we were warned about by Ike on his last speech to the nation; beware of a Military Industrial Complex.
    A standing army Jefferson warned us will need to be rationalized, and therefore used. How, to extract for profit at any cost the natural resources of the planet. Irregardless of the people and their connection to their lands. Look at the weapon systems used by a people, are they used for killing what they need or death and destruction of many ? What does that say about the people. And the legs of the Marine to me represent the poor you are immobile in our class structure and will sell their sole to "move themselves" out of poverty. Who do you think is hiring after the planned economic collapse ? the Military. Fighting to secure our economic interests in EurAsia. We will dictate the economic development in that region with the force presence in the Gulf and Afghanistan. The movie is full of messages. We assimilate cultures dont belive me read this mission statement http://www.opic.gov/.
    What we saw has happened and is still happening to indigenous peoples all over the planet. Without greed people can not be controlled. If you can not force them to sell take it by force. And of course make sure your corporate controlled media puts out the corporate propaganda. This is what we have become.

  10. Naviblue.com says:

    Cameron nows how to deliver
    Avatar site: Naviblue.com

  11. luke says:

    The first post here only misses one point – that the people the US is intending to fight against are not peaceful, however much some would like to portray them that way. I'd explain more but it's not worth the typing. If you come to your senses long enough, maybe you will move to Iraq or Afghanistan. Good luck to you in your travels.

  12. Kate says:

    Yes, Avatar has a very liberal message. But unlike other message movies, it's also got hottie Sam Worthington, cool 3-D effects, and awesome battles. I might watch Fox News but it doesn't mean I can't enjoy a good movie and leave the politics out of it.

  13. fasterwhatever says:

    Thank you so much for pointing out that they are mercenaries and not the American armed forces. I'm so sick of seeing people refuse to make the distinction, and it is an important one. Private armies are a terrifying concept and no one is under any obligation to cheer for them.
    So much headache regarding this could have been saved had there been just one or two more key lines in the film to point this out more; something to the effect of "you're not in the army anymore" or "working for the company is different than working for Uncle Sam."

  14. XM says:

    Most people watch this film IN SPITE of its heavey handed left wing preaching. Movies that are overtly anti war are usually spectacular box office flops.
    Most negative reviews from Rotten Tomatoes aren't from right leaning sites. They criticize the film for its one dimensional plot, dumbed down dialogue, and cardboard characters. Surprise, some critics hated Titanic for the same reason. That movie wasn't that great either.
    We're meant to root for the Navis, but if you were living in perfect harmony with nature with no sinful desires or earthly material needs (a romanticized view of the Native Americans, who traded with the white men), why wouldn't you just give away or trade the Unobatanium to save another species? IF the earth was depleted of resources, you wouldn't consider the moral dilemma of choosing between voluntary extinction and carefully raiding another planet for self preservation? These are the nuances and difficult questions the movie seems to ignore.
    And really, in the most politically correct country of earth, you really expect CEOS and officers to describe the aliens as "savages" and talk openly about killing them without future ALCU hounding their asses?

  15. Luke says:

    "It's anti-american!" If being American is killing inferior "tribes" aka developing countries for economic imperialism while recklessly blowing up the planet, then I'm sad to be an American. You're anti-american if you fail to acknowledge and critically think about the consequences of politically ignorant agendas both right and left such as those idiot commentators.
    Oh, and god forbid utility is not merely the result of material wealth. Even though Avatar exaggerates concepts such as love, community, spirituality, and harmony with nature (for the 50% of the population that's retarded), it should at least make you think "Oh, maybe having 3 Ferrari's and a 5 million dollar home doesn't mean much if I have no friends or family and I'm going to die utterly alone."
    Why has modern day rhetoric degenerated into who holds what opinion rather than which opinion holds the most truth. Media has failed such as this article, and THAT is anti-american.

  16. Pragmatist says:

    As Freud said: "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar." And sometimes a movie is just a movie.
    The "conservative" critics should go read the New Testament. It is full of left-wing messages.

  17. Roger Jones says:

    Our history is no mystery. There is indeed one race and it's not just the human race it's the "race" to Love & Respect all of the universe.
    Perhaps we should start at home with the Earth's one race. the human race. We need to take care of our people and our precious Mother Earth, NOW.
    The voices of Christ,Buda,Mother Teresa,Gandhi, Rumi, MLK, Lao Tsu, John Lennon, Michael Jackson (Earth Song) and many more speak of LOVE…."All you need is LOVE, LOVE, LOVE is all you need"
    Beauty is all we must strive for and within this intention we may overcome any challenge. Hey "Take a look in the Mirror" may that change start with you.
    I salute James Cameron/His Team and his well intended message that comes from the Heart.
    May he hit the 2 Billion $$$ mark and continue this mass intention with what follows…
    Warm Regards,
    Roger

  18. dramaley says:

    Let's face it. The graphics are great, but the story is so much like Disney's Atlantis (Raid on indiginous people by a colonel seeking riches on behalf of those he represents,..heck even the colors and use of weapons technology against indiginous weapons, love story on and on. Its like someone just wanted to make a new version of the Disney movie.
    Next time I hope they find a more original story, or at least break it into parts with sequals so we don't have such a predictable sequence of events that chases our time with a constant feed of "deja vu".

  19. directfitz says:

    Or maybe it's that conservatives are so out of touch with mainstream America they don't get that we want a clean environment, a fair shake, corporate responsibility, negotiation before annihilation, and a moral society.

  20. Plythe says:

    Good article. My son and I just saw Avatar again. It's better the second time. We both want to go again. Meanwhile, Cameron's message is clear, we'd all better "Wake Up"!

  21. Mike says:

    The unseen sequel to Avatar is when the 'corporation' returns with overwhelming firepower (of perhaps genetically engineered deadly viruses) and simply wipes the Nav'ii from the face of Pandora, stripmines it for 'unobtainium' and then moves on the other moons…

  22. John Keitz says:

    Sure there was some slick propaganda in the film. the difference is that, as with much sci-fi, the messages go over many people's heads. The problem here, is that the movie is just plain entertaining and beautiful to watch. The former military cliches and the two dimensional characters are a little cringeworthy at first, but unlike a Michael Moore film, the silly propaganda fades into the scenery and the movie proceeds without it. The writing is mediocre, and you've seen the movie several times before (especially if you've sat through Dances with Wolves), but that 3D just blows you away, and that's what's driving the profit. Were it nto for the 3D and FX, I would have waited for the DVD on this one. Star Trek it isn't, but it almost makes up for Titanic.

  23. jcrasda says:

    I am a conservative and went to see that movie only knowing it was James Cameron and a Sci-Fi movie, nothing else. I will tell you this, I watched that entire movie so memorized by its beauty and the 3d which contrary to what you might have heard it actually feels like it brings the movie to you, at your seat, right in front of your face so It doesn’t feel like there is that space between you and the screen anymore, you forget about the exit sign, you forget about the peoples head popping in front of you, it’s amazing feeling to be fully immersed on what you’re watching. I did not even think about politics while I watched the movie, not once did I relate what I was watching to today’s world. To be honest, the movie is so gorgeous none of that matters. I sat there for 2 and a half hour and was transported to another world. Even though the entire movie is a political message, I really did not care the entire time I was sitting there, I was in Pandora and that’s all that mattered. I’ve seen the movie 4 times so far and will watch it again and again without bringing politics into it because I choose not to, for this movie, this time. Just like I choose not to watch any George Clooney movie because of his politics, because I cannot disassociate HIM from his politics while watching him on screen, so it ruins it for me. If James Cameron would have casted Clooney as the lead, I would have thought twice before watching it.

  24. humble hope says:

    Even a whore infested with STDs can be beautiful to look at, but you would not take what she stands and lives for home to your family. Such is true of Cameron's "Avatar."

  25. hazydave says:

    In movies, most of us, the mainstream, can pretty easily tell the bad-guy from the good-guy. These days, it's not even necessary to use colored hats to ensure this works.
    Radical right pundits rallying against this film are, in fact, the folks out of touch with the mainstream. They have been for quite some time, in fact. They had a few years of success of moving regular folks over their extreme side, when binary issues could be inflamed, but in reality, most people in the country don't really believe its in their best interest to serve corporate overlords as serfs. This film, in fact, puts the various characters at precisely that point of decision.
    It's particularly salient that, in choosing the only option that allowed Sully to retain his true humanity, he's ultimately transformed into something other than human, at least in the biological sense.
    I don't think we have corporations quite so evil in today's society, but this is a story that's been repeated throughout history. Things like this have happened, and they don't wind up with the humans leaving for home in their spaceship. I also do imagine that, given the right set of desparation, greed, and opportunity, we're collectively capable of this sort of thing. You need the moral individual to rise and say "no" loudly enough to prevent such things.

  26. Chris M says:

    It's worth seeing because of the technical accomplishment. People aren't seeing it for the message. The message is the same old Hollywood line that's regurgitated movie after movie after movie. The left left loves Hollyword for it, the right tolerates it if it's worth it. In this case it is. Had this movie not been such a gigantic technical undertaking and achievement, I would never had paid to see it. Just like all the other America bashing, Republican bashing and Military bashing movies that roll out of Hollywood's liberal assembly line. This one's different enough to forget the intended message for a while and just pretend that the writers had no political viewpoint.

  27. timtom says:

    Every heard of the "Vally of the Wind" a Miyazaki film. Avatar is a complete hack of his master piece.

  28. David Sackman says:

    At first, Avatar seemed to be a futuristic Pocahantas story – colonist falls in love with the native chief's wife as he immerses himself in their culture. But this story had a better ending (from Pocahantas' point of view). If the Native Americans had the power the Pandorans did in this movie to kick out the "illegal aliens" on their land, we wouldn't have conservative pundits today decrying this movie as "anti-American."

  29. Jim Jones says:

    I almost agree with avrwc2's comment.
    I view the lead characters as fighting to defend true and fundamental American ideals. It wasn't just a marine gone rogue, other marines and scientists working at the site joined in the fight.
    I thought the movie made a concerted effort to remove references to America and "US" Marines. The Marines were on Pandora to serve corporate interests, not America's.
    The movie depected "Marines-for-hire" machine gunning natives to allow a company to dig up their homeland for some rocks.
    So to go back to avrwc2's comment, Iraq was not about defending America. It was about using the blood of our Marines to help Exxon extract oil from Iraqi soil – just as the Marines of Avatar were hired to help a corporation extract "unobtainium" rocks from Pandora. Just as with Iraq, the justification to mine Pandora was that our civilization would suffer if we cannot get that finite resource.
    The movie was NOT anti-American. It was not anti-troops. The movie was anti-greed. The movie was also about living within our means and not basing our survivial on limited resources.
    Some may call that Liberal today, but being good stewards of one's land and living within one's means are long standing conservative principals.

  30. SemperDoc says:

    avrwc2,
    Speaking as someone who has served in Fallujah during Operation Phantom Fury, you as well as the millions of people who have your line of thinking…… "We've had enough stupid, murderous wars and the claims that our military are defending our liberties, 5000 miles from our border sound increasingly bogus. And… what liberties are they defending exactly?"
    We are not fighting for your liberties or for you at all! We are fighting for people that do not have the liberties that you take for granted everyday. They did not have freedom of speech or any of our glorious freedoms. You are too worried about equal opportunities for left leaning people that you forget that not everyone in the world even has the basic freedoms.
    So, please step into their shoes and lose all of your freedoms. Then we can all point and laugh at you while no one is willing to risk their life to give you what they have.

  31. Ryan says:

    You pseudo-intellectual Liberals are killing America, please move to the Middle East where your Anti White Christian Male rhetoric is better tolerated. I enjoyed Avatar though, very entertaining

  32. RightWingMoron says:

    Of course wingnuts hate and fear this movie. It's thoughtful and intelligent. Funny thing about all those tough "talkers" on the right…almost all of them are obliviously unaware that the last war actually won by a Republican administration was in 1898…the Spanish-American War. Let's face it…conservatives are about at good at running wars as they've always been at running the economy. Total failures every time. History proves it.

  33. Angela says:

    Avatar is like Hamlet. When Jake Sully asks the question "To be or not to be" due to the corrupt nature of man, he choses, "not to be". At least that's the way I see it. It's unspoken. He does not actualy say those words, but does he need to? He is Rambo, except this time, he defeats the evil attacking him. And yes, they are evil, if they would only offer to give him back his legs if he helps them to get money. Never mind giving him back his legs because he lost them serving his country, right?
    Haven't we seen this for decades with veterans? Did we ever wonder why they were homeless?
    The story in Avatar is brilliant.

  34. queenofromania says:

    My 'Avatar', right or wrong!
    The 'Avatar' movie ticket line: Love it or leave it!
    And get a hair cut, you tree hugging blue-o commie!
    The more things change, the more they remain the same.

  35. ChrisS says:

    Saw it, Stunning visuals, great FX. Retelling of yet another 'noble savage' story? meh.

  36. CarolinaBlue says:

    As a Baptist minister in the South, let me state that not all people of faith hate this movie. I for one loved it and I found many points of connection between it and the Gospel. Foremost is the main character's role as a Christ-figure. Ironicly, a human experiences an incarnation into an alien, is transformed in the presence of former saints, dies to his old self and rises to a new existance. That sounds very familiar to me. Funny how the hypocrites of Jesus' time didn't accept his alien ways nor did imperial Rome. Got to love that skin color too!

  37. Luis says:

    It's quite telling that commentators on the far-right see a corporation that destroys the environment, displaces and murders indigenous people, and places profit in the highest regard, and they see themselves… just being portrayed in a negative light. The problem is, there is really no way for what the corporation in Avatar does to be justified, and interestingly enough, this is a fantastic analogy for what American imperialism does to people across the world, which somehow many people in this country DO manage to justify.

  38. Rick Cain says:

    Conservatives hate this movie because it demonstrates an inevitable truth. That greed is evil, but they can't reconcile it with what they have been taught from birth, which is the worship of the golden calf of money.
    No wonder rightwingers are in so much turmoil, their saviour is a communist hippie who wore sandals and detested wealth.

  39. ben says:

    The point most seem to be missing is that the "blue people" lived in harmony with their planet and only by doing so did they realize the true riches of their world. This isn't about the u.s. it's about most of the worlds population not living in harmony with the earth.

  40. Jay Nye says:

    I'm with Zeitchik on this one… political ideology was not a concern for why I saw Avatar (in 3D), nor why I would or wouldn't see it again. The movie had a tremendous amount of marketing and advertisement; the reviews and my friends all said it was great, even if the plot was unsurprising and predictable. Going to see a spectacle like Avatar is an escape from day-to-day concerns like politics. An adventure in computer-generated art, not a morality tale.
    The analogy to current world events is no more apt than a comparison to North American expansion and the Native Americans, Korea, or even the Revolutionary War (sticking to US history, there's plenty more from other countries).
    I don't think the visual imagery would have worked had the aliens been red. From a purely artistic standpoint, red is too tonally abrupt against the Earth-like greens of the forest and blues of the sky and water. There's an emotional element as well; blues and greens are more suggestive of a peaceful culture, connected to their planet's ecosystem. This works for the storyline, which is the primary concern. Any political implications would probably not be planned, but certainly not given greater consideration than the art itself.

  41. Donte says:

    Where's part 3 of the Blomkamp interview??

  42. Expat says:

    Analyze as you may.
    Why can't an author just write a good story without any intent to force anything political, religious or (un)ethical on the readers or viewers?
    There must be too many people with little else to do but criticize.
    James Cameron is still laughing all the way to the bank.

  43. Grant says:

    Of course. It's just entertainment. No different than 24. If Jack Bauer was a real life person, I'd be the first one to say he should be locked up for his police state tactics and ignoring the rule of law. But three weeks from now, I'll be cheering when he starts electrocuting someone's testicles with a lamp cord, only to learn later that the person didn't even know anything. Why? BECAUSE THERE'S NO TIME! and JACK BAUER GETS RESULTS!

  44. Mock says:

    Lets all go out eat grass and present our soft under bellies to any who wish us harm

  45. Steve Savage says:

    Yes, the movie did indulge the "noble savage" fantasy and was completely predictable, but it was still great entertainment. I'm a political moderate so I guess I didn't mind a few knocks on the political side. The one thing that was totally lame was the name "unobtainium" for the mineral they were after. Surely they could have come up with something better than that!

  46. Godot says:

    Avatar's themes, although considered liberal by right-wingers, have been common in American entertainment – siding with the underdog, the noble savage, the triumph of spirituality/principle over materialism, and love conquering all. These are not necessarily liberal messages – and these are what make the movie resonate across the political spectrum.
    What seems to make right-wingers upset are "key" phrases and images that they assume are analogies to the current wars in Iraq and Afganistan. As the article points out, some of these are tenuous or erroneous (?), such as the failure to correctly identify the "military" as corporate security. If this movie were such a criticism of current policy then the implication is that the solution is to… have everyone fall in love with a native who has no space travel and is able to perform miracles through their greater understanding of their planet thus ending the conflict by rallying nature? Fight until the animals/beasts side with one side or the other – thus clearly identifying the side with divine right? Have the top levels of governance (corporate figurehead in this case) abdicate decision-making entirely to the military so we can "win"?
    -Godot

  47. David says:

    I think people can tell the difference between good corporate practice (the production of a well crafted film for example), and ruthless, greedy, obsessive corporate libertarianism (credit cards, wall street, etc). I think they get the difference. I think anyone who thought the urgency of the corporate representative in Avatar to have the mercs clean out the poor navi from their homes, was a fool, and an idiot, would probably also admit that they would run their fictional corporation differently, BETTER, and would likely very quickly have a slew of alternative, and more reasonable ideas on how to still reach the end without killing and maiming a race of cool looking aliens.
    My real point is that anyone on the far right (im assuming the reasonable right aren't reading too much into the movie anymore then the guy in the seat to the left of them) who's huffing and puffing about the free economy, or anti-corporation sentiment, is probably just dealing with their own internal conflict that remains unresolved between their own sense of right and wrong. The film for them, and the villians in this story, like many forms of media, art, and the like, become a deflector – not quite a mirror – but still sending back an image that is both close to home, and jarring.

  48. had not seen it yet! says:

    avrwc2, you gave away the ending!

  49. People will always find reflections of their own opinions in the things they see and hear. If your purpose is to prove the consistency of your correctness, you will always find evidence to support your pre-existing notions. Almost any film can be used in this way. Wasn't _Up_ truly a movie about urban sprawl? Bottom line is this. People that enjoy what they do, and Cameron must fall in this category, have better things to think about than how they can weave political subtext into their work.

  50. Three Rings says:

    This movie has elements of Dances with wolf, The Matrix, World of Warcraft and Lord of the Rings. A better analogy would be the Indian Wars in the United States or the Spanish conquest over the Aztecs. Except the reality is our native people lost their lands, way of life and in many cases were executed to extinction. Many aspects of capitalism are horrible and this movie reminds us that greed comes with a price and Corporate America does not care. As long as they make money the destruction of our beautiful world will continue. So don’t worry, this movie will not change corporate behavior. Corporations will continue to destroy this world and no one will ever do anything to prevent it.

  51. mona lisa says:

    What no one is considering: maybe, just maybe Americans know that we are supporting mercenaries in other countries in a war on terror that is as much about oil as it is about anything else, and maybe just maybe they think that’s wrong, but hope it isn’t true, regardless of who they vote for. As for the bloggers and their spin: whatever, it’s tired, worn out dogma. Avatar is as American as it gets. Americans standing up for justice and turning against corporate terrorists.

  52. Three Rings says:

    This movie has elements of Dances with wolf, The Matrix, World of Warcraft and Lord of the Rings. A better analogy would be the Indian Wars in the United States or the Spanish conquest over the Aztecs. Except the reality is our native people lost their lands, way of life and in many cases were executed to extinction. Many aspects of capitalism are horrible and this movie reminds us that greed comes with a price and Corporate America does not care. As long as they make money the destruction of our beautiful world will continue. So don’t worry, this movie will not change corporate behavior. Corporations will continue to destroy this world and no one will ever do anything to prevent it.
    There is nothing original about this movie but it is a good movie to see in the theater. Maybe Kevin Costner can sue Jim Cameron.

  53. I've argued here: http://austeritygrub.blogspot.com/2010/03/avatar-… – that Avatar is a sequel to Leni Riefenstahl's 'Triumph of the Will'. Which is to say that it's a glorification of fetishism, fascism and idolatry.

  54. Jacolby Douglas says:

    can u tell me the good guys in this story i need it for a report

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